Training and priestly service
Metropolitan Joseph was consecrated to the Holy Episcopacy on June 30, 1991 at the St. Mary Cathedral in Damascus, after many years of serving as a deacon and a priest. His Eminence was born in Damascus, Syria, in 1950. He completed his basic schooling at the St. John of Damascus and al-Alliyeh schools in Damascus and then at Our Lady of Balamand Monastery in Koura, Lebanon. He completed his undergraduate studies at Lebanese University in Beirut and then earned his Master of Theology (M.Th.) with special studies in music and languages from Aristotle University in Thessaloniki, Greece. He was awarded an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from St. Tikhon Seminary in South Canaan, Pennsylvania, in May, 2010.
Patriarch Ignatius IV of Blessed Memory ordained His Eminence as a deacon in November, 1976, and priest in 1980. As priest, Fr. Joseph served as dean of St. Mary Cathedral in Damascus and as overseer of Holy Cross Church and other parishes in the suburbs of Damascus. He served as superintendent of the secondary school in Damascus from 1980 until 1983. Father Joseph then went abroad to pastor the Antiochian Orthodox Church in London, England from 1983 to 1986, and then the Antiochian Orthodox Church in Cyprus from 1986 until 1991, when he was elected as bishop.
His Grace was consecrated with the title Bishop of Katana in Syria, and served as Patriarchal Assistant and Secretary of the Holy Synod of Antioch. In 1995, he was sent by Patriarch Ignatius to America. Here, in our Archdiocese, Bishop Joseph was assigned to the West Coast Chancery by Metropolitan Philip of Blessed Memory. After self-rule status was awarded to our Archdiocese, Bishop Joseph was enthroned at St. Nicholas Cathedral by Metropolitan Philip as the first Bishop of the Diocese of Los Angeles and the West on September 12, 2004.
On December 11, 2011, at the Church of the Dormition of the Theotokos in the Patriarchal Monastery of Our Lady of Balamand in Lebanon, Patriarch Ignatius elevated Bishop Joseph to the rank of Archbishop, in honor of his many years of service as a bishop both in our Archdiocese and in the Patriarchate of Antioch.
On Thursday, July 3, 2014, the Holy Synod of Antioch, meeting in Balamand, Lebanon, elected Archbishop Joseph to be Metropolitan of all North America.
Metropolitan Joseph's achievements in apostolic ministry over the course of almost twenty years of diakonia as Bishop of the Diocese of Los Angeles and the West, as well as the Locum Tenens of the Diocese of Eagle River and the Pacific Northwest, form a solid testimony to his spiritual, ethical, and personal leadership qualifications. Over a vast expanse of the western United States and Canada, including Alaska, Metropolitan Joseph tirelessly and unrelentingly maintained a personal apostolic presence in the more than 60 parishes under his care in his years as Bishop of the Diocese of Los Angeles. His Eminence also maintained a personal culture of contact, by direct phone, with all his clergy. Many of the clergy and laity testify that Sayidna always remembered and acted on any important issue placed before him. This unique combination of traits—sobriety and blameless familiarity—has formed the bedrock for his personal effectiveness with all.
Based upon his solid spiritual, intellectual, and cultural formation and education, Metropolitan Joseph effectively established solid and meaningful Annual Clergy Seminars and deepened the spiritual and educational experience of both clergy and laity at the annual Parish Life Conferences. He brought in many and diverse Orthodox authors, leaders, and teachers to enrich the clergy and the laity of his two western dioceses. This served to promote a strong sense of clergy brotherhood, inter-parochial exchanges, and became the envy of other Orthodox jurisdictions everywhere. Guest speakers and visitors constantly remarked that Archbishop Joseph's clergy were outstanding in their consistent and active involvement in such events. His Eminence labored intensely to deepen the spiritual life of his clergy, by encouraging frequent confession, personal prayer, continual education, and a heightened sense of the fullness of our Orthodox Christian tradition of interior and ascetical transfiguration in Christ.
During these years, His Eminence also demonstrated episcopal hospitality in his way of life and led the way in cultivating an active pan-Orthodox community in the western United States and Canada. All of the canonical Orthodox hierarchs of the West related to Archbishop Joseph in a personal way as an episcopal concelebrant. This episcopal brotherhood was increasingly reflected in the inter-parochial interaction of the priests and laity of all the parishes across the western states and provinces.
Metropolitan Joseph also established a strong, clear, and straight-forward liturgical guidance for all his parishes. He pioneered the use of the internet in publishing the entire text of all the Sunday and festal services of the Church throughout the year. His love for the divine services inspired him to improve the liturgical praxis of all the clergy, through constant interactions and special teachings. In addition, he constantly promoted the spiritual climate of the dioceses under his care with such things as "the thought of the day."
Fr. Anthony was born Richard Anthony Michaels on the feast day of St. Anthony the Great (January 17, 1956) to parents Anthony and Gertrude Michaels and was baptized at St. Symeon the Stylite (also St. Simon the Zealot is commemorated) Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church in Ironwood, Michigan. Rick was raised with his sister, Joanne, and brother, Craig. The Orthodox church in Ironwood is pan-Orthodox and, therefore, included all ethnic Orthodox communities in the city. Fr. Anthony’s father is Lebanese and his mother is Serbian. As a teen-ager, he was active in all varsity athletics at Ironwood High School, including his role as the starting quarterback of his football team.
Fr. Anthony attended the University of Michigan where he received his B.A. in Literature, Science and the Arts, having a double major in History and English literature. He graduated Magna Cum Laude. Following his university degree he attended St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary in Crestwood, NY, where he graduated as a valedictorian of his class. He earned an M.Div. from that seminary. Besides English, he has a reading knowledge of biblical Greek and is currently learning Arabic, at the request of His Eminence Metropolitan Philip.
He taught modern philosophy at Gogebic Community College in Ironwood, Michigan before becoming a pastoral assistant and youth director at St. Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church in Montreal, Quebec, Canada for two years. He and fellow seminarian, Fr. Patrick Kinder, held positions of youth coordinators at St. George Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church in Akron, Ohio, while they toured the country giving concerts and retreats while with the group KERYGMA. Fr. Anthony also spent two years based in Nashville, Tennessee, at St. Ignatius Antiochian Orthodox Church in Franklin, Tennessee, recording for KERYGMA with Fr. Patrick and Fr. Michael (Alan) Shanbour. Fr. Anthony has lectured extensively in North America, giving lectures to youth groups and as a speaker at church retreats for various jurisdictions besides his own, the Self-Ruled Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America.
Fr. Anthony was ordained to the diaconate on September 18, 2004, and to the priesthood on September 19, 2004, at St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church in West St. Paul, Minnesota, under the pastorate of the Very Rev. John Khoury, of blessed memory, and by the laying on of hands of Bishop Antoun. He was able to serve his home parish for seven months before he was given his current assignment to lead the faithful of St. John Chrysostom Church in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
Fr. Anthony inspired and oversaw the design and construction of the new church facilities at St. John Chrysostom Church in Fort Wayne. On the sixth anniversary of his ordination to the Holy Priesthood, he had the great honor of hosting Metropolitan Philip for the consecration of the new church on September 19, 2010, at which time he was elevated to the dignity of Archimandrite by the laying on of hands of the Metropolitan. He was subsequently appointed dean of the Indiana Deanery by Metropolitan Philip.
Fr. Anthony continues his pastoral ministry in Fort Wayne, providing a consistent liturgical life for the faithful. It is his honor to serve the parish family of St. John Chrysostom Church.
Father Amin Houli was born in Damascus, Syria in 1964. He received his degree of theology at Balamand University in Tripoli, Lebanon and continued his education at the theological school in Athens, Greece. Father Houli speaks fluent Arabic, Greek, and English. He is happily married to Khouria Rena, he is blessed with two children, Theodora and Nicholas. Some of his hobbies include swimming , reading, and his ultimate passion, spreading the word of God.
Before arriving at St. James, Father Houli served as a deacon at St. Mary Livonia located in Detroit, Michigan. On February 6, 2005 he was ordained a priest by Bishop Mark of Toledo and became pastor at St. Catherine mission in Ann Arbor, Michigan. On July 17, father Amin officially became the priest of St. James.
During the 2009 Midwest Parish Life Conference, Fr. Amin was elevated to the rank of Arch Priest. May God grant him many years.
Periodically we will post an excerpt about the life of an Apostle
Commemorated on August 9
The Holy Apostle Matthias was born at Bethlehem of the Tribe of Judah. From his early childhood he studied the Law of God under the guidance of St Simeon the God-Receiver (February 3).
When the Lord Jesus Christ revealed Himself to the world, St Matthias believed in Him as the Messiah, followed constantly after Him and was numbered among the Seventy Apostles, whom the Lord “sent them two by two before His face” (Luke 10:1).
After the Ascension of the Savior, St Matthias was chosen by lot to replace Judas Iscariot as one of the Twelve Apostles (Acts 1:15-26). After the Descent of the Holy Spirit, the Apostle Matthias preached the Gospel at Jerusalem and in Judea together with the other Apostles (Acts 6:2, 8:14). From Jerusalem he went with the Apostles Peter and Andrew to Syrian Antioch, and was in the Cappadocian city of Tianum and Sinope. Here the Apostle Matthias was locked into prison, from which he was miraculously freed by St Andrew the First-Called.
The Apostle Matthias journeyed after this to Amasea, a city on the shore of the sea. During a three year journey of the Apostle Andrew, St Matthias was with him at Edessa and Sebaste. According to Church Tradition, he was preaching at Pontine Ethiopia (presently Western Georgia) and Macedonia. He was frequently subjected to deadly peril, but the Lord preserved him to preach the Gospel.
Once, pagans forced the saint to drink a poison potion. He drank it, and not only did he himself remain unharmed, but he also healed other prisoners who had been blinded by the potion. When St Matthias left the prison, the pagans searched for him in vain, for he had become invisible to them. Another time, when the pagans had become enraged intending to kill the Apostle, the earth opened up and engulfed them.
The Apostle Matthias returned to Judea and did not cease to enlighten his countrymen with the light of Christ’s teachings. He worked great miracles in the Name of the Lord Jesus and he converted a great many to faith in Christ.
The Jewish High Priest Ananias hated Christ and earlier had commanded the Apostle James, Brother of the Lord, to be flung down from the heights of the Temple, and now he ordered that the Apostle Matthias be arrested and brought for judgment before the Sanhedrin at Jerusalem.
The impious Ananias uttered a speech in which he blasphemously slandered the Lord. Using the prophecies of the Old Testament, the Apostle Matthias demonstrated that Jesus Christ is the True God, the promised Messiah, the Son of God, Consubstantial and Coeternal with God the Father. After these words the Apostle Matthias was sentenced to death by the Sanhedrin and stoned.
When St Matthias was already dead, the Jews, to hide their malefaction, cut off his head as an enemy of Caesar. (According to several historians, the Apostle Matthias was crucified, and indicate that he instead died at Colchis.) The Apostle Matthias received the martyr’s crown of glory in the year 63.
Info copied from OCA